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Death toll in collapse of Lagos tower block rises to 21

The owner of the 21-storey building has been arrested as police said permission had only been granted to build 15 storeys.

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At least 21 people have died after the collapse of the building in central Lagos (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

At least 21 people have died after the collapse of the building in central Lagos (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

At least 21 people have died after the collapse of the building in central Lagos (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

The death toll from the collapse of a high-rise, apartment building under construction in Nigeria’s most populous city has risen to 21, the Lagos state governor said on Wednesday, as rescue crews continued to seek surviving workers in the rubble.

Nine people had been rescued by Tuesday, but no new survivors were found on Wednesday. The previous official death toll, released early on Tuesday afternoon, had been 14.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said it was unclear how long the rescue mission would continue.

“There is no pillar in any form that is holding anything,” he said of the building’s remains. “Hope is what is in short supply,” he told families. “Hope is what we all require now.”

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Rescue crews go to work looking for survivors at the site of a collapsed 21-storey apartment building under construction in Lagos (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Rescue crews go to work looking for survivors at the site of a collapsed 21-storey apartment building under construction in Lagos (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Rescue crews go to work looking for survivors at the site of a collapsed 21-storey apartment building under construction in Lagos (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

It’s unknown how many people could still be trapped inside the debris, but one construction worker at the scene had estimated there were about 100, leaving potentially 70 unaccounted for.

The 21-story luxury apartment building under construction toppled on Monday and it took several hours for officials to launch the rescue effort.

Authorities have arrested the property’s owner, according to media reports, saying that his building permit only allowed for a 15-storey structure.

By the entrance of the compound, help desks were set up for people to provide names and photos of their relatives or friends who they believed were working there when the structure crumbled.

There was also a help desk for counselling and support of distraught relatives, many of whom were lined up by the roadside.

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Police hold back concerned relatives from the site of the collapsed building (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Police hold back concerned relatives from the site of the collapsed building (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Police hold back concerned relatives from the site of the collapsed building (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Abel Godwin traveled 448 miles from the nation’s capital, Abuja, in search of his 18-year-old son who had been employed at the site.

After arriving in Lagos at 2am, he visited the government hospital where victims are being treated.

“They couldn’t allow me to check whether my son is alive or dead,” he lamented.

Dozens of family members have expressed anger and frustration over their inability to know the fate of their relatives.

The Lagos state government has set up an independent panel to determine the cause of the accident and whether the project developers had fully complied with building laws.

The panel also is to examine whether there were any lapses by state regulators in overseeing the project.

“People are indeed upset, people are angry. I can assure you we are doing everything,” the governor said.


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